10 Things You Didn’t Know About Kyrie Irving

  • Kyrie Irving

    Nike

    1. He never played an ACC game at Duke 

    It’s hard to imagine anybody in this “one and done” era having a truly decorated college career, and like many other future NBA stars Kyrie’s stay at Duke was brief. Things were going well through nine games; Irving was averaging 17.4 points and 5.1 assists a night and looking like a shoo-in for Freshman of the Year honors. However, a toe injury against Butler sidelined Kyrie for the rest of the regular season and the ACC tournament, and he did not take the court for the Blue Devils again until the first round of the NCAA Tournament.

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  • Kyrie Irving Nike Hyperdunk 2014 FIBA

    Nike

    2. He almost decided to play for Australia in the Olympics rather than the US

    While the United States has no shortage of talent when it comes to choosing their Olympic team, Australia has a decidedly smaller pool to choose from. They almost landed a huge star to put alongside Andrew Bogut, Patty Mills, and Matthew Dellavedova for the 2012 Olympics when Kyrie—who was born in Australia when his father played professionally there—seriously considered suiting up for the land of his birth at the London games. In the end, though, Irving decided to stick with the U.S. after receiving assurances that his college coach Mike Krzyzewski would be back on the bench for the 2016 Olympics in Rio. [source]

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  • Kyrie Irving

    Nike

    3. He could dribble a basketball at 13 months old

    Could you even walk at 13 months? Probably. But did you have any fine motor skills whatsoever? Almost certainly not. This is just one of the ways that Kyrie is a vastly superior athlete than pretty much everybody else; he had handles before he was even out of diapers, dribbling a basketball at a tender 13 months of age. No word on when he successfully completed his first crossover, but it’s safe to assume that the kids at preschool didn’t know what hit them. [source]

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  • Kyrie Irving

    Bryan Horowitz

    4. After a trip to the New Jersey Nets’ court in fourth grade, Irving wrote on a piece of paper, “I will play in the NBA, I promise.”

    If you grow up watching basketball, you have dreams of playing in the NBA. But eventually, reality sets in. You start to realize that there’s a very, very small number of people who actually make it to the league, and the odds are pretty stacked against you. Kyrie had no such confidence issues, however, and barely 10 years later he made good on his pre-pubescent promise. [source]

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  • Kyrie Irving Nike Kyrie 1

    Nike

    5. His father made him wrap basketballs in plastic to help improve Kyrie’s handles

    Kyrie’s father Drederick certainly knows a thing or two about basketball; after a successful college career playing under Rick Pitino at Boston University, the elder Irving played several years of pro ball in Australia before returning to the States to raise his family. In order to make his son Kyrie a better dribbler, Drederick relied on an old trick from his youth: wrap a basketball in plastic to reduce the grip and bounce. Did it work? You tell me. [source]

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  • Nike Kyrie 1

    Nike

    6. In December of 2014, he became the first player in six years to get a Nike signature shoe

    When it comes to Nike Basketball sneakers, plenty of guys have gotten their own player edition. But a signature shoe? That’s rare status for the Swoosh. At the end of 2014, only three active NBA players had their own Nike sneaker: Kobe Bryant, LeBron James, and Kevin Durant. Kyrie became the fourth, an honor Nike had not bestowed on an athlete for six years and a clear sign of Irving’s meteoric rise through the NBA ranks.

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  • Nike Kyrie 1

    Nike

    7. The jagged pattern on the Kyrie 1 payed homage to the Sydney Opera House

    A signature sneaker is more than just a shoe; it represents a player’s past, present, and future. It salutes where he comes from, and sets the tone for where he’s going. The visual design of the Nike Kyrie 1 kept this important idea in mind, emblazoning the shoe with the jagged pattern characteristic of the world famous Sydney Opera House in Kyrie’s native Australia. While his present may be all about the U.S. in Cleveland, Irving’s early beginnings will always be associated with the Land Down Under.

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  • Nike Kyrie 1

    Nike

    8. The Kyrie 1 had the initials “JBY” etched beneath the Kyrie logo on the outsole

    While being a superstar obviously carries a lot of on-court expectations, equally important is the way a player represents himself off the court. Kyrie has been a model citizen in every respect throughout his early NBA career, thanks in no small part to the flair of individuality he brings to every game. Embodying that self-assured spirit is his “Just Be You” motto, an ethos that Kyrie models his own game on and one he hopes serves as a source of inspiration to others.

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  • Nike Kyrie 2 Kyrie Irving

    Nike

    9. The design of the curved outsole on the Kyrie 2 was based on banked motorcycle tires

    If you’ve ever watched Kyrie play, you know that his game is based on speed and quick changes of direction. When Nike went into the lab to design the Kyrie 2, they wanted to create an outsole that would maximize Irving’s prolific agility and explosiveness. The team soon realized that a model for this type of machine already existed: high-speed motorcycles. The result was a “banked” outsole on the Kyrie 2 that is essentially a curved outsole rather than a flat edge, allowing for incredible traction and an even higher number of defenders left in the dust.

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  • Nike Kyrie 2 Kyrie Irving

    Nike

    10. The dates of his mother’s birth and passing are on the underside of the strap of the Kyrie 2

    While Kyrie’s life to date has had plenty of highs, sadly he lost his mother when he was just four years old. Despite having such a short period of time with her, Kyrie always has his mother with him thanks to an important design choice on the Kyrie 2. Under the strap are two dates: his mother’s birth and her death. They serve as an important reminder of who he plays for, and a way of paying tribute to someone who has not been physically present for Kyrie’s brilliant start to his NBA career.

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  • Kyrie Irving
  • Kyrie Irving Nike Hyperdunk 2014 FIBA
  • Kyrie Irving
  • Kyrie Irving
  • Kyrie Irving Nike Kyrie 1
  • Nike Kyrie 1
  • Nike Kyrie 1
  • Nike Kyrie 1 "Brotherhood" Duke
  • Nike Kyrie 2 Kyrie Irving
  • Nike Kyrie 2 Kyrie Irving

While the Cleveland Cavaliers are perhaps best known as LeBron‘s team, their title chances and long-term future could rest in the hands of someone else: Kyrie Irving. The 23-year-old point guard is already a three-time NBA All-Star–and if he hadn’t been injured for much of this season’s first half, he undoubtedly would’ve made his fourth straight trip to the midseason classic–and his return from injury this season has helped vault the Cavaliers onto the short list of contenders to dethrone the Golden State Warriors and win the NBA championship. (It’s a very short list too: Spurs, Thunder, Cavaliers, and maybe the Raptors if you’re feeling lucky.)

[RELATED: The Drop Video Series, Episode 6: Starring Kyrie Irving]

The lightning-quick Irving has the kind of speed and handles that could make even the best defender look foolish, and it’s no wonder that in December of 2014 Nike gave him a signature sneaker and made him an intricate part of their post-Kobe plans. With its design, the Kyrie 1 paid tribute to Irving’s past, present, and future, and was on his feet throughout what was his most successful NBA season both as a team and individually–Cleveland came within two wins of an NBA title and Irving averaged 21.7 points per game while shooting nearly 42 percent from deep.

[RELATED: How Kyrie Irving Is Nike’s Replacement for Kobe Bryant]

After Nike initially dropped the Kyrie 2 this past December, a new Blue/Black/Silver colorway is set to debut this Saturday at Champs Sports. It’s been dubbed “Brotherhood” because it pays homage to Irving’s short time as a Duke Blue Devil. It is also a continuation of a colorway storyline that began last season.

In honor of the Cleveland young star, let’s take a look at 10 Things You Didn’t Know About Kyrie Irving.

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image via Nike